For the first time on CD, the alluring sound of Charles Leighton, digitally re-mastered, captures the romance of his legendary tone and unparalleled performance. A must-have album.
Charles Leighton, a native New Yorker, taught himself to play the harmonica at the age of twelve. At only 16 he left home to hit the proverbial long hard road and begin his colorful career. He toured the entire United States playing in vaudeville theatres as lead harmonica with various harmonica groups including the Philharmonicas and illustrious Cappy Barra Harmonica Gentlemen, having the time of his life while sending money home to his family.
The 1940s found him in Hollywood, where he appeared in motion pictures for Columbia and RKO. During this time he also played country music on the radio with The Hollywood Barn Dance and The Hoagy Carmichael Show, and recorded with The Riders Of The Purple Sage, Merle Travis, Johnny Bond and The Andrew Sisters.
Upon returning to New York, he signed with USO Camp Shows and toured throughout Japan, Korea, and China, entertaining the Military. After this tour, he returned home, to work as a studio musician playing on numerous radio and television commercials and recorded with Dean Martin, Dinah Shore, Harry Belafonte, Mitch Miller, Andre Kostelanetz, Clint Eastwood, Hugh Downs, Dionne Warwick, just to name a few.
By the mid 1950s he founded and operated his own recording studio, and gave up playing entirely. Years later a very good friend asked him to make a harmonica recording of one of his favorite flute solos called “Poem” by CharlesT Griffis, an American composer. Never having heard this piece, Leighton assumed it would be an easy task to please a friend, so without giving it too much thought he promised to record it. After seeing the music he realized it was more complex than he had expected, but a promise was a promise and Charles was determined to keep his word. He met the challenge with intense practice, and made the recording. Ironically, it gave him so much pleasure to play again, that he researched other classical pieces and to our good fortune, assembled this CD.